UK eHarmony Ads Banned for False Claims of Science

In January 2018, Britain’s Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) banned advertisements by online dating service eHarmony that claimed it uses a “scientifically proven matching system.”

eHarmony is perhaps the best-known dating service claiming to mix science with seduction. According to the company’s website, its marriage profile, “developed by a team of clinical experts … is rooted in classical psychometric theory—which uses well-established standards to measure mental abilities and traits in a reliable way.”

eHarmony makes many claims about the scientific validity of their matching program, which they call a “Compatibility Matching System.” eHarmony’s claims to science and scientific validity are both explicit and implicit throughout the company’s literature. A representative from eHarmony told me explicitly that “eHarmony’s matching system was developed using an empirical, scientific process.”

As I noted in my in-depth investigation for Skeptical Inquirer (“Sweet Science of Seduction or Scam? Evaluating eHarmony,” November/December 2014), there is no good evidence that eHarmony is based on science. Neil Clark Warren, the relationship expert behind eHarmony, has never published a single study on his company’s magic matching algorithm. I concluded, “If people are choosing eHarmony over a competitor because they believe that there is some validated science behind the matching, they are likely being misled. Caveat emptor.”

The ASA investigated eHarmony’s claims and found no evidence that its customers benefitted from any science-based superior matching and that its claims were “misleading.” According to an article in The Independent:

The complaint that triggered the ruling was lodged by Lord Lipsey, the joint chairman of the All Party Parliamentary Group on Statistics and a former lay member of the ASA council. “Phrases like scientifically proven should be confined to claims that are just that, not used in crude puffery designed to lure in those longing for love,” said Lord Lipsey. “This is a new form of fake news which the ASA has rightly slapped down.” (https://tinyurl.com/ybx4xvnm)

The ASA reviewed documentation provided by eHarmony about its “scientific methods” and concluded—just as I did in 2014—that none of the studies proved that eHarmony’s system offers matching that is either based in valid science or matches clients at rates higher than its competitors. eHarmony later issued a statement saying it respectfully disagreed with the ASA but would “work with them to assure that our advertising is as clear as possible.”


In January 2018, Britain’s Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) banned advertisements by online dating service eHarmony that claimed it uses a “scientifically proven matching system.” eHarmony is perhaps the best-known dating service claiming to mix science with seduction. According to the company’s website, its marriage profile, “developed by a team of clinical experts … is rooted …

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